Where is Everybody?

Walking about my neighborhood of University Heights last night, I passed few people on the streets. Some small crowds gathered at several restaurants along El Cajon Blvd, but few folks appeared elsewhere. The Featured Image, taken at 8:28 p.m. PDT, provides timeframe.

Desolate best describes the scene, which would have made great setting for shooting an apocalyptic movie. Zombie. Viral Armageddon. Alien invasion. You suggest one. Where was everybody? This is summer-year-round San Diego. The cool evening—21 Celsius (71 Fahrenheit)—appealed to me. Was everyone else home streaming content and ordering GrubHub? Is that the sorry state of society?

The highlight of the night was the old woman tucked into a sidewalk crevice along the construction site at Louisiana Street and The Boulevard. She appeared to be someone new to homelessness. Her collection of personal items looked to be real belongings, rather than the junk the more typical street person pushes about. Some stuff, mainly clothes, filled one of those big, blue IKEA bags. Other items fit into a grocery cart—not one stolen from a local store (typical) but the upright kind an elder might buy to bring back food from the supermarket.

In a raspy voice, she asked if I could spare a quarter or some change. The lady sounded parched, honestly. I don’t typically carry cash, but unusually two one-dollar bills tucked into an extra pocket of my shorts. I stopped, pulled out the money, and handed it over—careful not to make skin contact. In January 2004, I developed poison ivy after giving some coins to a homeless dude on the Washington, DC metro.

A rapidly rising number of San Diego’s homeless is over aged 50 and nearly half are recently on the street, largely because of renovictions: Landlord clears out an apartment building; modestly renovates; and takes new tenants at ghastly increased rents. Citizens living on fixed incomes, particularly the Social Security-dependent, can’t afford to pay for housing. Currently, the cheapest rental in University Heights is a $1,700 per month 400-square-foot studio. The budget buster is a 942-sq-ft house for $8,500.

The night shot, taken with Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, looks across the abandoned bus stop along El Cajon at Texas Street. Vitals: f/1.7, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, 23mm (film equivalent).